Dan Fowlie is back in Pavones, where he again says unscrupulous persons have stripped him of the land he owns there. And he seems a bit irked that La Nación quoted the immigration director as saying he had entered the country illegally.
Fowlie is one of those larger than life characters who has been called the king of Pavones.
He dashed off an email Wednesday to a La Nación reporter denying that he is here illegally. He said he arrived by airplane Jan. 13 at Juan Santamaría airport and went through all the immigration and customs procedures. He said he was here to see his land and old friends.
That may be the reason some residents in the Pavones area became nervous and called attention to his presence. That his land has been invaded while he was in U.S. federal prison is no secret, and there are plenty of people who do not want to see him reclaim an estimated 1,000 hectares.
In fact, in 2005 when he showed up in the area, some residents told officials that he was being threatening, something Fowlie denies.
Marco Badilla, who was immigration director then, stepped into the dispute and ordered Fowlie out of the country and imposed a ban on his return. That pleased Pavones land grabbers.
Kathya Rodríguez, the current immigration director, told a La Nación reporter that there was no record in the agency’s computers of Fowlie’s arrival. That probably says more about the computers than Fowlie.
In any event La Nación posted an unflattering print and online article saying the Fuerza Pública had been seeking him since Tuesday.
That prompted his email, which he copied to A.M. Costa Rica.
Fowlie, then 41, arrived in Pavones in 1974
and began purchasing beach concessions until he had accumulated a 15-mile stretch of oceanfront. The locals got jobs, and he helped teach them construction, heavy machinery operation and even gardening.
He built schools, churches and other infrastructure.
Pavones is in southwestern Costa Rica on the Pacific. And it is true that the wave there, described as being almost mechanical, is one of the best in the world for surfing.
Fowlie had plenty of money when he arrived with his family. Some was inherited. The rest he made as a real estate speculator and from a leather goods business that supplied high-end department stores.
He even had enough money to purchase the San José mansion of U.S. fugitive Robert Vesco of Watergate fame. That may have been why he came to the attention of U.S. anti-drug agents, perhaps with justification.
When he was detained in México in 1985, California investigators found there the evidence, an ounce of marijuana, that eventually resulted in a federal conspiracy trial. Fowlie spent 18 years in federal prison. And his land holdings began to deteriorate under pressure from locals who doubted that he would come back. He called them sharks.
The Los Angeles Times said Fowlie was convicted of operating a continuing criminal enterprise, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute, and other related charges. His sentence was 30 years.
The newspaper called him a drug kingpin, and his conviction came from testimony of his associates, who got deals from the federal government.
He noted in his Wednesday email that he has protested his innocence for 30 years.
Fowlie legally purchased the land he holds in southwestern Costa Rica, and none was ever involved in the marijuana allegations. Fowlie has said that he continues to pay taxes on the concessions.
La Nación has since removed the Fowlie article from the online edition, although it still can be found in the newspaper archives. Early today a new story said that Fowlie had entered Costa Rica legally.